- Aug 2, 2020
An armed woman who goes by the nickname "La Guera," and who says she is a member of a female-led, self-defense group, patrols the edge of her town El Terrero on January 14, 2021
The Michoacan area of Mexico has gotten so lawless, a band of female vigilantes are taking it upon themselves to protect their friends and family.
The state, which is the world’s largest supplier of avocados and limes, has recently been overrun by the violent Jalisco drug cartel that hail from the neighboring state and so the women are fighting back, according to The Associated Press.
The women carry assault rifles and post roadblocks, often while pregnant or carrying small children with them, to combat the growing homicide levels, which have skyrocketed since 2013.
The majority of the women have lost family members to the cartel, like Blanco Nava who told the AP her son Freddy Barrios, a 29-year old lime picker, was kidnapped by presumed Jalisco cartel gunmen in pickup trucks; she has never heard from him since.
Armed women who go by the nicknames “La Chola,” left, and “La Guera,” and who say they are members of a female-led self-defense group who fight off drug gangs, seen driving with firearms on January 14, 2021.
Another woman claimed her 14-year-old daughter was kidnapped and hasn’t been seen since, saying “We are going to defend those we have left, the children we have left, with our lives. We women are tired of seeing our children, our families disappear. They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands.”
It is left to the women to fight as most men are being carted away to work for the cartels (willingly or not).
“As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away,” woman told the AP. “They disappear. We don’t know if they have them (as recruits) or if they already killed them.”
The women vigilantes also made a homemade tank, “a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armor welded on it,” the AP reports, while women in other towns have dug trenches across roadways leading into neighboring Jalisco state, to keep the attackers out.
Children play on sandbags at a checkpoint set up by their mothers, who are part of the female-led defense group in Mexico on January 13, 2021
Alberto García, refused to join the cartels and had to flee. His family members were not so lucky.
“They killed one of my brothers, too,” said Garcia. “They hacked him to pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant.”
The vigilantes say they have to resort to these tactics as the government and police fail to do so.
A masked woman who said she was displaced from her community by criminal groups seen on January 13, 2021.
Sergio Garcia, a male member of El Terrero vigilante group, says his 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed by Jalisco. Now, he wants justice that police have never given him.
“We are here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crook, because if we don’t do it, nobody else will,” Garcia said.